Byrdy Galernik’s senior season saw her appear in every one of the Wildcats’ games. Her role on the team certainly evolved in her four years in Evanston. She averaged nearly 20 minutes a game as a sophomore before dropping to around 11 minutes per game in the 2018-2019 season and seeing little playing time in the NU’s run to the WNIT finals.
With Lindsey Pulliam, Veronica Burton and Sydney Wood all coming into their own this past season, as well as Jordan Hamilton rebounding from her injuries woes, Galernik was relegated to only eight minutes a game, primarily relieving the former three in lower leverage situations. As the eighth body off of the Wildcats bench, she had a few outstanding performances which stood out. After starting slow, the Toledo native poured in huge games against DePaul and Boston College. She picked up consistent minutes in nonconference play but, to the chagrin of some, saw the court less frequently as the ‘Cats coasted to the Big Ten title.
Let’s run the numbers on Galernik’s last ride.
The following statistics were taken from HerHoopStats.com:
No particular statistic of Galernik’s stands out. As noted above, the 5-foot-8 senior averaged four minutes fewer than her junior season. However, she scored twenty more points in her senior season — an increase of 0.7 points per game. Her defensive prowess should also be noted as a nice alternative to the three-headed monster of Wood, Burton and Pulliam.
Galernik limited her turnovers, did not foul often and made every single free throw while she was on the court this season. Due to her lack of playing time, looking at the more advanced statistics gives us a better picture of her season.
The following statistics were taken from HerHoopstats.com:
Although she attempted the fewest shots of Northwestern’s primary eight players, Galernik’s field goal percentage immediately stands out at above fifty percent. Of those eight players, her shooting percentage was surpassed only by Courtney Shaw and Abbie Wolf, two players who relied almost exclusively on shots around the rim. Galernik, however, took many more lower-percentage outside shots.
This statistic correlates to her efficiency across the entire season, as she finished in the 95th percentile for points per play and points per scoring attempt. She also scored nearly a quarter of her points from beyond the arc, adding some versatility to a ‘Cats offense, which rarely looked first for the three-ball unless the play was drawn up for Scheid.
During a four-game stretch in nonconference play against Valpo, Colgate, DePaul and Boston College, Galernik averaged 17 minutes per game while scoring nearly 12 points per game. She achieved a career high in points in jumpstarting the ‘Cats offense, which saw decidedly lackluster performances from Scheid and Burton against a good DePaul team, ultimately falling 70-68. She shot 6-for-8 from the field, following it up with 13 points against Boston College.
As stated above, Galernik was extremely efficient while on the floor from a scoring standpoint. As a player not afraid to pull up from mid-range or attempt the occasional triple, her high field goal percentage certainly underscores her importance in contests where Joe McKeown needed to go to his bench for scoring. Moreover, her perfect mark from the charity stripe — especially in raw situations — certainly deserves praise.
The key negative with Galernik’s season was the McKeown’s unwillingness to give the senior major minutes in Big Ten play. It is a well-established fact that McKeown loves playing his starters. Against tougher conference opponents, Galernik barely saw the court, playing a single minute against both Maryland and Ohio State and three minutes on the road against Indiana.
With limited minutes, Galernik never got much of an opportunity to perform on the offensive end of the court or attempt too many field goals, thus never allowing her to establish the offensive rhythm seen in nonconference play. In the few instances she did — such as the final minutes in NU’s Big Ten tournament loss to Michigan in which she scored four points in five minutes — she proved she deserved to be on the court.
The Bottom Line
Galernik leaves Evanston as a Big Ten champion and unfortunately not more due to circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although her minutes decreased as the season progressed, she still contributed and broke out for some big performances. Galernik was a senior leader who brought energy, swagger, heart and hustle to her teammates and the Welsh-Ryan faithful any time she stepped onto the court. She was a fan favorite who won’t be soon forgotten.